6 Great Things to Do in London’s East End in England

6 Great Things to Do in London's East End in England

Andy and I may be from England but I’ve never lived in London or spent much time there. In fact, I’ve really only visited some of the main landmarks and tourist attractions, plus some of my sisters’ local pubs and restaurants when they lived there.

So when we were back in England for a year, I thought it was about time I explored more of our capital city.

After a bit of thought, I decided to take myself off for a solo weekend in London’s East End whilst Andy stayed at home in Norwich. 

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Things to Do in the East End of London

Things to Do in East End London in England. Image of bright coloured street art on a building

True to form, I tried to fit in as much as possible during my 48-hour visit and discovered several great things to do there. Here are six great things I found to do in London’s East End which you might also enjoy, either on a quick visit like I did or combined with some of the top London landmarks.

1. Take a Self-guided Walking Tour 

I was lucky that my London trip coincided with a travel bloggers meetup. This included Alex and Lisa from Career Gappers, who being East End locals had created an excellent alternative walking tour for us. It had a great varied mix of history, street art, markets and food. There were a few East End highlights but many of the things we saw and places we visited were hidden gems that only a local could know about.

The tour started at London Liverpool Street Station and finished at Old Street Station (although ours ended in a local pub for food, drinks and a travel-themed pub quiz). It took about two hours so make sure you have comfy shoes and an umbrella just in case you get the same appalling weather we did. If you’re looking to orientate yourself with London’s East End with a self-guided walking tour I highly recommend following this great alternative London walking tour which includes details on all the stops and a route map.

The East End, in particular Brick Lane and Shoreditch (which has lots of cool things to do) is well-known for its fantastic and varied street art. So if you’re more interested in concentrating your self-guided walking tour on street art, this is a good London street art walking tour to follow.

2. Eat an Iconic Bagel at Beigel Bake

White bagel  with pink salt beef and green gherkin in a white from Beigal Bake in London, England

The very first thing I did once I arrived in the East End, before I even checked into my hotel was to drop into Beigel Bake. I’d heard great things about this small, cheap, 24-hour eatery on Brick Lane; they’ve been serving up their iconic salt beef bagels for generations. There are also other fillings to choose from including pickled herring or smoked salmon. This is definitely a snack stop not to miss.

3. Visit the Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities

Front window  full of glass alcohol bottles of Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities in London, it has black woodwork with white writing that says 'the Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities. Fine Art & Natural History. The Last Tuesday Society'

The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities or the Tuesday Society Shop as it’s officially named, is a modern-day take on the Victorian ‘cabinet of curiosities’. Its small basement is full of weird and wonderful exhibits collected from all over the World by its owner and namesake Last Tuesday Society Chancellor, Viktor Wynd. You’ll find, rather haphazardly displayed, many taxidermy specimens, skeletons and skulls, strange art, books, letters, erotica and a plethora of other curios.

To be honest, it was rather bizarre, but fun for a browse and even better for a post-browse cocktail in the ground floor bar. The bar is well known for its excellent cocktails; I recommend the delicious Witches Cradle, which tasted like a cross between an espresso martini and a chocolate orange – yum.

4. Take a Chilling Jack the Ripper Tour 

Nighttime Jack the Ripper Tour London. Guide standing near the lit Christ Church Spitalfields sign, in front of a black iron fence

One of many interesting facts about London is that despite much speculation, the real identity of Jack the Ripper has never been discovered. This adds to the mystery of a Jack the Ripper tour, one of the most popular tourist attractions in the East End and one of the darkest attractions in London.

Many agencies run these tours daily but I was lucky enough to be invited by to join Triple .co to join the Ripper Vision Tour. This tour is a cut above the rest as it is the only one where the guides use hand-held projectors to display images onto buildings, walls and doors to really bring the gruesome story of Jack the Ripper to life as you walk around.

I went on the 7:30 pm tour; there’s another one at 2:30 pm but I thought it would be much more chilling to do this tour in the dark, which turned out to be a correct assumption. Myself and about 20 other people met up with our guide, outside the Whitechapel Art Gallery next to Aldgate East Underground Station. Our guide, dressed in period costume immediately set the scene for the upcoming tour and told us he’d been running Jack the Ripper tours for 15 years; he was extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic on the subject

The tour retraced the footsteps and the route that the Ripper may well have taken himself. We stopped at regular intervals at the site of each murder and listened to descriptions of the murders unfolding. The use of the projector to show images of the original crime scene photos helped transport us back to 1888 when the murders took place.  I can’t recommend this tour enough it was a fantastic engaging and memorable experience.

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5. Have a Curry

Tomato based curry in black iron dish at Tayyabs

You’ll be spoilt for choice of excellent places to eat in London’s East End but one thing you can’t miss eating whilst there is a curry. The area is well known for its curry houses and you shouldn’t be hard-pressed to find yourself a mouth-watering curry or a ‘ruby murry’ as it’s known in Cockney rhyming slang. 

Brick Lane is known to many tourists as the ‘curry mile’ in the East End and for good reason as each side of the road is lined with curry house, after curry house. This is where most people who don’t know the area will head for a curry. However, speak to many a local and they’ll tell you that Brick Lane curries generally aren’t that amazing and there are far better places nearby.

I went for my late evening curry in ‘Tayaabs‘, a very popular Punjabi nestled down a side street in Whitechapel. I was recommended Tayaabs by several people, and wasn’t disappointed. It was busy, very busy, and I had to wait about 20 minutes to be seated. But it was well worth the wait. The food is all freshly made, extremely tasty, and reasonably priced. Just note that you can’t book a table and will probably have a wait, so the earlier you get there the better.

6. Browse a Market (or Two)

Broadway Market London

If you love exploring local markets like I do, then you’ll be in your element in East London, which has many different markets, held on different days to choose from. Having a browse around some of these is a great way to experience some of the history, culture and tradition of this part of London. It’s also a good opportunity to sample some traditional English food.

Here are some of the best:

Old Spitalfields Market – located in Spitalfields and open seven days a week from 10 am to 5 pm, this historic indoor market is one of East London’s busiest markets. Around the edges are many boutique stalls, salons and eateries, but it’s at the heart of the market where it really all happens. There, you’ll find traders plying all kinds of wares such as clothes, jewellery, arts and crafts and street food. On Thursdays there’s an antique market and on the first and third Friday of each month, there’s a vinyl market

Broadway Market – found in the middle of Hackney and open on Saturdays from 9 am to 5 pm, this market is a delight for foodies. Set up on an old drovers route into the city, Broadway market has been the home to traders since the late 1800s. It was relaunched in 2004 and now has over 130 stalls, the majority of which are farmers’ markets and street food stalls. You’ll find a fantastic selection of fresh produce, street food, flowers, vintage clothes, coffees, books and handicrafts. 

Petticoat Lane Market – is found between Middlesex and Goulston Streets in Spitalfields and opens from 9 am to 2 pm on a Sunday. This world-famous market now sells clothes for men, women and children, along with household goods and other bits and pieces. Back in the day though, traders mainly sold petticoats and lace from the stalls, hence its name. Confusingly, you won’t find Petticoat Lane on the map. Prude Victorians renamed it ‘Middlesex Street’ in the early 1800s as they couldn’t bear it being named after the undergarments sold there. There’s a smaller version of the market held on Wentworth Street on Mondays to Fridays between 8 am and 4 pm.

Colombia Road Flower Market – another of London’s famous markets, Colombia Road Flower Market is located in Hoxton and opens on Sundays from 8 am to 2 pm.

White, orange and yellow tulips with green leaves in light pink plastic boxes at Colombia Road Flower Market in London

Photo Credit: The World in My Pocket

A flower and plant lovers’ paradise, this must be London’s most Instagrammable market. With buckets overflowing with gorgeous, colourful flowers, this market is extremely popular with locals and tourists. if you want to avoid the crowds and peruse the stalls at a leisurely pace or get your pick of the best blooms, be sure to arrive as early as possible.  

My personal favourite is Broadway Market, mainly because I’m a foodie and love trying as many different types of food as possible. I errored on the day I went though, and had a big breakfast, so didn’t have room to sample anything. It’s a good excuse for a return visit though.

Other Activities in London’s East End

There are, of course, lots of other things to see and do in London’s East End if you have more time. If you prefer things organised for you rather than going it alone there are loads of great activities and tours which you can book online.

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Then, there are a vast number of other things to see and do in London in other areas. Have a look at this ultimate London bucket list and this 3-day London itinerary for more ideas.

There are also plenty of places in London to visit with kids if you’re in London as a family.

East End of London Hotels

There are many places to stay in London’s East End, but during my visit, I was invited to stay at The East London Hotel which has since changed hands and is now called Yotel Shoreditch.

Yotel Shoreditch (formerly The East London Hotel)

Yotel Shoreditch (formerly The East London Hotel)

The Yotel in Shoreditch (previously The East London Hotel) is a modern, stylish hotel, very conveniently located in the heart of East London. Being just a couple of minutes walk from Bethnal Green underground station on the Central line means you’re it’s only about 15 minutes by tube from central London.

The hotel is also right on the doorstep of many of East End of London’s excellent restaurants, bars and attractions, including Paradise Row just behind the hotel. Directly across the road is V&A Museum of Childhood which unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to visit. There are 161 rooms of various types: standard double, premium double, family and twin.

The reception is at the front of the property and doubles as a bar and restaurant. As with everything in this hotel simplicity and convenience seem to be at the forefront of mind when deciding the check-in process. It’s a straightforward self-check-in process via one of three check-in stations. Check-in starts at 2 pm so try to time your arrival for that or relax in the bar or restaurant whilst you wait.

As the saying goes ‘good things come in small packages’ and that is certainly true with regards to the rooms at The East London Hotel. I had a standard double room with a window, that despite being very compact, still had everything needed for an enjoyable stay.

Due to the hotel’s simplicity, there’s not much more in the way of facilities except of course the bar and restaurant downstairs which always seemed to be busy and had a friendly atmosphere.

The well-stocked bar is open until late and as well as all your usual tipples they also have a selection of craft beers and from 5 pm also serve up a selection of classic cocktails. 

I loved my stay at The East End Hotel and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone that’s looking for a convenient, friendly and comfortable place to stay in the East End. 


I hope my suggestions of things to do in London’s East End have helped give you some ideas for your visit, especially as we included some more unusual options.

Have you visited London’s East End? Can you suggest any other things to see or do that I missed? 

Planning Your Trip to London’s East End?

Planning your trip to London’s East End in England? Here are some of our recommended useful resources to help you have the best time possible.

TRAVEL INSURANCE IS AN IMPORTANT CONSIDERATION! World Nomads offers cover for travellers in over 100 countries and True Traveller is a great option if you’re from the UK or EU.

SafetyWing is another solution, particularly for digital nomads and long-term travellers.

● Use Wise (formerly Transferwise) for sending or receiving money internationally. It’s cheap, easy and transparent.

● Find amazing flight deals on Skyscanner and Kayak.

● For great prices on ferries check out Ferryhopper.

● Compare charter yacht hire prices on Click&Boat.

● Compare rental car prices on Rentalcars.com.

You can book train, bus and other ground transportation with Trainline, 12Go and Bookaway.

● Booking.com usually have the best hotel prices.

● Our go-to for self-catering accommodation is Vrbo.

● Discover fantastic trips and activities with Viator and GetYourGuide.

● Check out Bookmundi, G Adventures, and  Intrepid Travel for group holidays and tours.

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Partnership Disclosure: The East End Hotel hosted my stay in London’s East End and Triple.co provided me with a complimentary Ripper Vision tour. This did not influence my post in any way and as always I’ve provided balanced and honest reviews. Read more in our full Partnership Disclosure.

Tanya Korteling

Tanya is the founder and head content creator for Can Travel Will Travel. She combines freelance SEO, CRO, Data and Marketing consultancy with exploring the world. Passionate about adventure, nature, wildlife and food, she incorporates these in her travels as much as possible. She also loves immersing herself in new cultures. She's visited hundreds of destinations in 50+ countries and lived in 4 countries. Tanya worked as a Data Planning Manager and Digital Marketing Strategist before leaving the UK in 2016 with her husband Andy, to travel, live and work abroad indefinitely. Together they share their experiences and useful information to inspire and encourage others to do the same.

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Rebecca Smith

    The Jack the Ripper tour and the Museum of Curiousities both sound right up my street!

    1. TanyaKorteling

      They were really good!

  2. Hi Tanya, As pensioners, and perpetual travelers, London is a little pricey for us to stay for our usual, one to three months. We had a layover there, a few years ago, and spent a nice day walking around and visiting one of the national art galleries. Thanks for a very interesting and engaging posts about London’s East End.

    1. TanyaKorteling

      Yes it is pricey, I’m from the UK and I rarely visit London myself. It does have some great things to see and do though on short visits too. There’s definitely some fantastic museums and galleries. Glad you enjoyed your visit.

  3. raheelajames

    We are planning a trip to London this summer so I’m reading up on all the places to visit in London. We heard about the curries in East End as well. Being Punjabi ourselves we will have to check out Tayaabs. The Jack the Ripper tour looks super interesting. I’ll have to talk it over with my husband and maybe do that as well. Don’t know how he’ll feel about that 🙂 Thank you Raheela

    1. TanyaKorteling

      Yes definitely try out Tayaabs it was great – just very busy. You’ll probably enjoy the Jack the Ripper Tour even more than I did in the summer – it was very cold when I did it! Have a great time whatever you do!

  4. I don’t live far from here, so done a fair few of those things. My favourite has got t o be Colombia Flower Market early on a Sunday morning.

    1. TanyaKorteling

      So much to do in that area – Yes I really enjoyed the flower market too!

  5. ellieslondon

    old spitalfields market is one of my favourites in all of London ♥ The currys over the East End are pretty special too, worth the odd trip, when you live all the way over in West London.

    1. TanyaKorteling

      Yes, I really enjoyed looking round there too 🙂

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